24-70 f2.8 vs. alternatives

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bikealps, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. I'm about to buy a 24-70 to fill a hole between my 12-24 and 70-200. I'm shooting DX (D90) but plan to upgrade to FX next year when the D700 refresh comes out. I also prefer the idea of a 24-70 length over a 18-55 f2.8 for the types of photos I shoot.
    I looked at a mailorder website to consider the alternatives. I recently got the 70-200 f2.8 VR2 and am very happy I chose the Nikkor glass. The main application for the 70-200 was sports and I really needed the best possible AF speed. I've heard the alternatives aren't as fast and any advantage here is worth the $$$.
    For a 24-70, my main application would be people and events. I've been using a 50 f1.8 AF and a 28 f2.8 AF, but I want a zoom so I do not have to change lenses and I insist on f2.8 because I want narrow d-o-f.
    In theory, the non-Nikkor options should be ok because people photography is not as AF-speed critical as sports...
    I looked on the mailorder website and I saw the following options (lots of alphabet soup)...
    Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 77mm G EDIF AF-S $1700
    Tamron 17-50 f2.8 67mm SP XR Di-II LD aspherical IF AF-D $459
    Tamron 28-75 f2.8 67mm SP XR DiLD-IF AF BIM $449
    Sigma 24-70 f2.8 82mm EX aspherical DG DF AF $569
    Sigma 17-50 f2.8 77mm EX DC OS HSM AF $669
    Sigma 24-70 f2.8 82mm EX aspherical IF EX DG HSM $899
    I'm willing to pay the extra $$$ (lots in this case) for the Nikkor glass if I have to, (I am very happy with the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR2.) but it sure is a lot of $$$. I would think a 24-70 would be less critical than a 70-200. The downside of non-Nikkor glass might be sharpness, build quality, sample variation, and AF speed. AF speed is a big deal for a 70-200, but maybe not such a big deal for a 24-70.
    Looking at the online retailers website, every one of the alternatives has several reviews and nearly all of them cite disadvantages in build quality/sample variation and AF speed. Interestingly some of the negative comments about AF speed claim the alternatives are not fast enough for wedding use. They claim the lens hunts. I'm surprised by this. "Wedding" should be much easier than sports. If these lenses are not quite good enough for wedding, maybe I should just spend the $$$ and go for the Nikkor.
    Not to mention, most of the alternatives are not 77mm filters, so I would have to buy filters for them that would not fit my 70-200, 12-24, or future FX wide-angle zoom. Maybe that's not a big deal; after all I would probably only use filters on the standard zoom any way.
    I bought real Nikkor glass back in 1993 -- 300 f4 and 105 f2.8 micro -- and am very happy with the purchase.
    What do people think about these Sigma and Tamron alternatives?
    btw, I visited Yodobashi and BIC camera stores in Shinjuku earlier this week. We get better pricing in the USA for nearly everything.
     
  2. Allan,
    I just moved from a Tokina 28-80 2.8 to the Nikon 24-70. I cannot speak for the Sigma or Tamron lenses, but in short here is my recommendation. Nikon 24-70 and look no further.
    Yes it is very expensive, but I noticed a significant difference in sharpness and shots that are in focus. Yesterday I took a shot into the sun over a snowed field. No flare! I did not believe my eyes. With the Tokina the frame would have been filled with artefacts.
     
  3. As someone who has used the Tamron lens for over a year and has tested both Sigma lenses quite rigorously, I will tell you this: get the Nikon lens. If you put two images, taken on a tripod, at identical settings, you will immediately see the difference. I did. Even at less than 100%! The second alternative, after the Nikon, would be the new Sigma 24-70 - it's VERY sharp compared to the Tamron, but still not as sharp or fast as the Nikon (it is smaller in size though).
    True, the Nikon lens does present a slight pincushion distortion at around 52mm, but that is SOOOO easily correctable in the new LR, that it stops being an issue. It's a superb lens.
    As for your other surmises: (a) the 24-70 is a MUCH more critical lens for events (such as weddings) than any longer zoom. In most churches and reception halls you won't have the space required to take group images or sense-of-space photos using the 70-200. (b) weddings (and events, in general) tend to be "darker" situations (in terms of lighting) than sports, and as such, a lens which does not "hunt" (which means trying to obtain focus in challenging situations) is more important. (c) both the Tamron and the Sigma ARE slower lenses in terms of achieving focus and this can be a problem, both in events and sports.
    My 2 cents...
     
  4. I use the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 on my D700 and am happy with the quality, size, weight and price of the compromise. IMHO each lens is a compromise, you need to decide what is most important to you. I hike with this setup and it is heavier than I like but I want only one body to think about and pay for. All my other lenses are Nikkor's. If I needed 24-70mm range I would probably go with the Nikkor.
     
  5. The third party alternatives just don't come close, just check out the test results. There is no point in putting cheap lenses on expensive cameras.

    On the filter issue, just use stepping rings - all my filters are 77mm.
     
  6. I'm missing a used Nikkor 28-70 2.8 in your list, I did some tests wtih both lenses on 2.8 at 8 and 70 mm, you could see difference on the screen, but hardly and on 100% print I could only see it after checking the backside for the file #. Else a Tamron I still regret that I sold it after I bought the 28-70, just for the weight.
     
  7. If I had a "standard zoom" on my DX camera that only went out to 24mm or 28mm, I'd be so frustrated so fast that I'd probably sell or return it within days.
    Maybe that's just me, but do you really want to switch lenses every time you go from medium wide angle to wide angle? I don't. I used to hire shooters for events, and none of them would have used a 24 or 28 - xx lens on DX. Too much going from groups of 2 to groups of 6 or 8 or so.
    I'd get the Tamron 17-50 if I had to have f2.8. I don't have to have f2.8 at that range, so I'm so happy with my cheap Nikon 18-70.
     
  8. I'm using a 24-70 Nikon on my D700 for about a year. Had a 24-85 2.8-4 Nikon which is still a good lens. You might look at it as an alternative.
     
  9. A big part of the better prices here are the huge taxes they pay on things in many countries. So, people in those countries buy everything here as much as possible LOL. As for lenses, I buy the best ones (used if possible) since I keep them for quite awhile. That goes double for tripod/head.
    Kent in SD
     
  10. Knowing that you are going to step up to FX is a big reason to get the 24-70 Nikkor. If I KNEW I would be upgrading to whatever Nikon releases to replace the D700 I would definitely purchase the 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor as my standard zoom.
    HOWEVER, I would never trade my 70-200mm f/2.8 / D300s Combo for sports. I like/need the extra reach the DX format gives me since I don't intend to purchase a 300mm f/2.8 @ $5800 USD any time soon.
    Because of this, I purchased the 17-55mm f/2.8 Nikkor as my standard zoom and I have never regretted it.
     
  11. every one of the alternatives has several reviews and nearly all of them cite disadvantages in build quality/sample variation and AF speed. Interestingly some of the negative comments about AF speed claim the alternatives are not fast enough for wedding use. They claim the lens hunts. I'm surprised by this. "Wedding" should be much easier than sports. If these lenses are not quite good enough for wedding, maybe I should just spend the $$$ and go for the Nikkor.
    There are two issues here. One is that the third party manufacturers haven't really been able to perfectly reverse engineer Nikon's AF system and the AF tends to be jittery and accuracy issues are commonly reported. The second is that the 24-70/2.8 is highly corrected for aberrations especially at wide apertures whereas many of the third party lenses are not so good at f/2.8. I have a friend who switched from a 3rd party f/2.8 standard zoom to the Canon 17-55 IS (he has a 7D) and he was happy to see the substantial improvement in sharpness at f/2.8. The 24-70/2.8 Nikkor is a class leader in image quality for PJ style shooting (i.e. intermediate distances and wide apertures) so that makes it ideal for wedding style images. I have a bunch of fast primes in this range but the reality is the 24-70 is almost always good enough when there is enough light to shoot at f/2.8. I would normally shoot the ceremony and outdoor pics with the 24-70 as well as the beginning of reception, then switch to f/1.4 and f/2 primes as the light gets low. Since you already have the 70-200 II I think the 24-70 will make a perfect pair. And the 12-24 will cover for your current DX wide angle needs.
    Personally I would rather have a 35-105/2.8 FX than the 24-70/2.8 for my own event use, but Nikon doesn't make one. I got the 24-120/4 for this reason (to get a zoom which allows both tightly framed facial close-ups as well as the wider and more typical event shots). However, I am not happy with its quality outside of the f/5.6-f/8 aperture range - so it's not useful for weddings for me since the aperture range I use in this application is f/1.4-f/4 and at the f/4 aperture the zoom has a dark image and the definition of the image is not as clear as with the f/2.8 zooms. It can be acceptable to the untrained eye but I want to push for the highest quality. The same seems to be the case at f/11 and don't even look at the corners. However, I have found the 24-120/4 to be a great tool for tripod-based landscape shots when I'm carrying a lot of macro equipment I care not to carry the f/2.8 zooms with me in the forest. It's very much fun to use and lightens the burden on my back. As long as I shoot at f/8 and use a tripod the image quality is ok.
    Back to the OP; I think the prices for the various lenses in this range are justified by performance. The 24-70 is top notch for event/general people shooting in close to intermediate distance range. It's also great for landscapes except at 24mm and infinity focus, where it has its weak spot. Lucky for me I rarely use such a combination of settings.
     
  12. I expected feedback that the Nikkor is the best, but I expected more people to question whether it is worth the extra coin and I didn't expect people to say the difference was that big. Given that people are pretty close to unanimous on the 24-70 and that I have been so pleased with the 70-200, I'm gonna go get the 24-70.
    Thanks for all the help!
    There, I finally did it. I just pressed the "buy" button. It's an honor to help the Japanese economy. All of my future photos will now be masterpieces.
    Now y'all collectively owe my the $1000 I could have saved. ;-)
     
  13. Allan,
    I love reading posts that match my own situation and needs. Like you, I am waiting to move to FX format and am waiting for the D700 replacement. I also will likely upgrade my lenses to 24-70 and 70-200. Thanks for the post and for everyone's responses. It confirms my previous research.
    Here is something I have been wondering. It seems clear there is pent up demand for the D700 replacement. I wonder once Nikon releases this camera, if we won't see a run on FX lenses, like the two I mention above? I have been thinking about getting the lenses before the camera for just this reason.
    Who knows, but it seems logical we could see them on back order. Just a thought.
    Paul
     
  14. Congrats Allan - you'll really like the lens. The issue I had was fitting it in my bag - the lens hood is HUGE. :)
    I bought the 24-70mm in April for my D90 and love it. I have no qualms about the extra money ($700 CDN) over the Sigma. I didn't try it against anything other manufacturer. At wide open there is such a HUGE difference between the Nikon and Sigma that I could immediately see it on my LCD. The salesman thought I was doing something to cause it asked me to try it again (I brought my camera with me and tried both a Sigma and Nikon with the assumption I was buying the Sigma). The Sigma is very soft wide open - I shoot the Nikon wide open all the time for my son's karate and it is a wonderful lens. I recently got the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and those are the only 2 lenses I seem to be using now. LOL. I guess I'll be using my 70-300mm VR for tonight's eclipse though.
     
  15. allan/paul, yes, the 24-70 is worth it. i've owned the tamron 17-50, sigma 17-50 OS and tamron 28-75--which are all good-- before getting the 24-70--which is great. i would say that that and the 70-200 are the core of a good kit, no matter what body you're using. if you can afford it, there's no reason not to get this lens, except perhaps, if you shoot primes on FX and get the 24/1.4 AF-S instead.
    i would also agree with ilkka that 35-105/2.8 would be perfect for events--that's one of the reasons i liked the 28-75 on DX. but the 24-70 on DX accomplishes this as well, so unless you need to shoot at high ISOs, it works out well, especially if, as you say, you have a 12-24 for w/a.
    00Xt6E-313167584.jpg
     
  16. Late to this thread, but wanted to say congratulations, Allan! I have the 24-70 and absolutely love it. Yes, it's big and heavy, and yes, it's quite expensive, but its image quality is outstanding. I believe you will come to love using that lens.
     
  17. I have the Nikkor and it pretty much lives on my D700. You'll love it.
     
  18. On my D700, I shoot most of my portrait work with the 70-200 f2.8 VRII lens. When the situation requires a shorter focal length, then I use my 24-70 f2.8 lens. I have several other lens, but don't use them very often. In descending frequency
    1. 85mm f1.4
    2. 105mm f2.8
    3. 50mm f1.4
    4.14-24mm f2.8
    If you are curious as to the results with those lens, you can stop by my website and take a look. I am not a great photographer so you will need to look at the results with that in mind. Visit http://www.e2photo.net. If you have questions, I would attempt to answer them.
     
  19. bms

    bms

    Of the lenses mentioned I won the 24-70 (superb) and USED to own the Tamron 17-50, which was very good (older version) and would hold you over well until you upgrade (but would double you coverage from 17-24).
    My subjective 2 cents.
     
  20. Even more important, at least to me, is the 24-70 build quality and design that will assure a long life, clearly above third party and consumer level Nikkors. I bet there are not so many (if any) pro choices in this regard.
     
  21. I've owed both the Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 and Nikon 24-70mm 2.8. Both superb lenses. I let the Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 go. Here are my observations, by the way I shoot weddings. I found that the cheaper Tamron matched the Nikon in Image Quality (wow!).
    Things I noticed that may or may not be important to you. Focus speed is slightly faster in the Nikon. The is definitely more durable and weatherproof. It focuses more accurately in low level light. Why I kept the Tamron. I was able to use the money from selling the 24-70mm to fund a Nikon 24mm 1.4. The differences in the two were not enough to make a difference in my shots. I would not miss shots with the tamron that I could get with the Nikon. For example, when the lights were low enough to cause the tamron issues, I would already be using the flash focus assistance beam on a flash. Also the Tamron's (I use the screw version one) focus speed was not slow (it's much faster than all the prime lenses I currently use). Also the Nikon is a big lens! Any weight and space saved when shooting an all day wedding three days in a row helps! You can't go wrong with either lens. I personally am fine with the Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 when I need zoom versatility.
     
  22. “I bet there are not so many (if any) pro choices in this regard.”
    Not many but there are a few available on the used market such as:
    Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 AF (this lens was replaced by the 24-70mm f/2.8 AF)
    Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8 AF (this lens was replaced by the 28-70mm f/2.8 AF)
    .
     
  23. I've owed both the Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 and Nikon 24-70mm 2.8. Both superb lenses. I let the Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 go. Here are my observations, by the way I shoot weddings. I found that the cheaper Tamron matched the Nikon in Image Quality (wow!).
    Things I noticed that may or may not be important to you. Focus speed is slightly faster in the Nikon. The is definitely more durable and weatherproof. It focuses more accurately in low level light.
    i own both lenses currently, and i'd have to disagree on a couple of points.
    1) the tamron is soft at f/2.8. the nikon is much sharper wide-open, which is important for available-light shooting.
    2) the focus speed differential is more than 'slight.' the nikon is the fastest-focusing lens i have. its practically instantaneous, even in low-light. the tamron is well-known to hunt in low-light, which is also my experience.
    i'm going to hold on to the tamron for now, as it will be much better for walkaround/travel use than the 24-70, which is bulky and cumbersome, plus the IQ and bokeh are pretty good (if you can overlook the 2.8 softness) for a third-party lens. but i don't think there's really any comparison about which is better. incidentally, the tamron's IQ is said to be comparable to the older 28-70, which the nikkor 24-70 tops.
     
  24. @ Eric- I'm sure there are some sample variations where the tamron may be softer wide open, but not mine. My wife (she 2nd shoots for me) and we have literally shot thousands of photos with both wide open, the photos looked very similair. the Tamron works wonders for her since its lighter, more compact.
    As far as focus speed, what body were you using the tamron on? Also does your tamron have a build in motor or does it rely on the in camera motor. Mine relies on the in camera motor, I've heard that the one with the built in motor is slow. I use the D700, it is definitely not slow, but I'd imagine on smaller bodies this could be an issue if the in camera motor was not as robust. The nikon 24-70mm is the fastest focusing Nikon I've run into as well, but my Tamron is not much slower. Noisier, but not too much slower. Maybe 75% as fast?
     
  25. Allan,
    in regards to your concerns of using after market lenses for weddings and AF speed. Having fast AF speed is definitely helpful in weddings, but like you suspected, not as critical. My bread and butter lenses are pretty much primes for weddings. None of them come close to the AF speed of zoom lenses (all my primes are pretty slow focusing, but thankfully accurate focusers). Usually if I am using a zoom in pretty low light, i'm using some sort of focus assistance (either from the camera or hotshoe flash). Haven't had any problems shooting the Tamron 28-75mm at wedding receptions, night clubs, etc.
     
  26. As far as focus speed, what body were you using the tamron on? Also does your tamron have a build in motor or does it rely on the in camera motor. Mine relies on the in camera motor, I've heard that the one with the built in motor is slow.
    charles, i've used the original screw-drive version of the tamron 28-75 on d80, d90, d300 and d300s bodies. haven't gotten around to testing it on D3s yet. don't get me wrong, i like the lens--a lot. it was my first 2.8 zoom, and served admirably. it's just that the 24-70 on d300s and D3s is so much better, particularly when it comes to focusing.
     

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